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Christopher Pollard (1771-1841)

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Christopher Pollard
Sex: Male
Birth: Sancreed, Cornwall, England
Baptism: 10/2/1771 Sancreed, Cornwall
Death: buried 24/11/1841 Cornwall
Father: John Pollard
Mother: Lydia Neckervis
Spouse/Partner: Susannah Roberts
Marriage: 5/10/1795 Sancreed, Cornwall

Christopher Pollard was baptised in Sancreed, Cornwall in February 1771, the son of John and Lydia Pollard (nee Neckervis).

Death of Father

Christopher's father John died and was buried in Madron on 15th July 1775, when Christopher was only 4 years old. His mother was pregnant at the time of the death and Christopher's sister Jennifer was born four months later. How his mother raised Christopher and his three siblings without remarrying is currently unknown, but it is possible that Christopher's future activities developed as a result.

Marriage

Christopher married Susannah Roberts in Sancreed in 10th February 1795, some 6 months after his brother John had married in the same church.

Smuggling

It is believed that Christopher was a Cornish smuggler. During the 1790s, Christopher the smuggler was charged with obstructing and assaulting revenue officers and had fled to Guernsey in order to escape the consequences of his crimes. This is believed to be the reason for the uncertain date of his first son’s birth. Then, in the early months of the Napoleonic War, the need of men for the services and home defence meant that an amnesty was made. Royal Proclamation was made that any smuggler who had fled the country should, provided he was not charged with murder, be permitted to return without fear of arrest, on his entering into bond to refrain from smuggling practices in the future. Christopher signed the bond and returned to Cornwall, but could not escape his smuggling practices. In 1805, he was again charged with smuggling and inciting a riot on a beach where his smuggled goods were being stored. On this occasion, Christopher was found not guilty, the principal witness for the prosecution being a woman of notorious character, who was known to accuse persons of acts as a means of revenge for perceived wrongdoings. The entire trial is described online, from the Old Bailey transcripts located at http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18050710-90-defend833&div=t18050710-90#highlight

The First and Last Inn

The centre for Christopher’s smuggling activities was the First and Last Inn in Sennen. The village of Sennen is the most westerly in Cornwall. The First & Last Inn is one of the most famous inns in Cornwall, not only due to its location, but because of its notorious reputation, since the 1600s, of being the headquarters of smugglers and wreckers. The inn is thought to have been built about seven centuries ago. The small building next to the inn, now known as the Saddle Rooms, may well have been the housing for the donkeys that would carry lanterns across the clifftops to fool seamen and create many shipwrecks in and around the Cove. There are many suggestions and tales and, because people of every status were involved, so much of the subject was covered up. Smuggling was at its peak at the beginning of the 1800s. Brandy, silk and tea were among the vast range of goods brought in from France. Locals would be warned to face the walls when the smugglers were due to travel through their village, so that, if asked, they were able to say that they had not seen a thing. (A song goes "Four and twenty ponies, trotting in the dark; Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk ...So watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by!") Secret tunnels and passages were dug by smugglers to evade capture by government officials, and the glass-covered well that you will see in the inn, known as Annie's Well, is thought to have been one of these.

Joseph and Annie George ran the inn around this time, and they managed to blackmail the landlord, Dionysius Williams, a wealthy farmer, into letting them live there rent-free, due to their knowledge of his smuggling business. Joseph George also happened to be Williams' smuggling agent. Williams eventually decided to remove them from the inn. This infuriated Annie, who then turned King's evidence against Williams, and he was served with a long term of imprisonment. She did not stop there. Her enemies increased as she turned on others, including Christopher Pollard of Madron (who was found not guilty), the Vingoe family, and Joseph's brother, John George, after a row over a tobacco deal. He is said to have been convicted and hanged for this. The villagers got their revenge on Annie for turning against them. To punish her, they staked her out on the beach at low tide, and as the water rose and the fishing nets pulled her down, Annie drew her last breath. They laid her body to rest in her bedroom before she was then buried in an unmarked grave, in the cemetery, next to the pub.

Death

Christopher survived all his smuggling activities and died and was buried on 24th November 1841 in Sancreed, aged 70.

Name Birth Death
Children of Christopher & Susanna Pollard


Christopher 1795-1798


William 13/10/1799
Madron, Cornwall


John 1/1/1802
St Just in Penzance, Cornwall
10/5/1874
Creswick, Victoria, Australia


Susanna 6/3/1803
Madron, Cornwall


Maria 6/9/1805
Madron, Cornwall


Lydia 27/11/1808
Madron, Cornwall


Joseph 2/12/1810
Madron, Cornwall


Janifer 5/4/1812
Madron, Cornwall


Mary Ann 25/8/1816
Madron, Cornwall


Job 26/7/1818
Madron, Cornwall


Elizabeth 4/6/1820
Madron, Cornwall


References

  • Family Search - Cornish Parish Registers
  • Cornwall OPC
  • Transcripts from the Old Bailey online
  • The First & Last Inn online
  • Vingoe Cornish Smuggler's Website
  • Genealogy information from Peter Underdown




Sources and notes

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